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Coronavirus: Daughter's 'heartbreak and nightmare' after both her parents pass away


Ignatius O’Connell and his wife Mary

Ignatius O’Connell and his wife Mary

Ignatius O’Connell and his wife Mary

A north Belfast family have expressed their anguish after both parents died within three days of each other after contracting Covid-19.

Ignatius O'Connell (89) died on April 14. His wife Mary (86) also passed away at their Strathmore Park home on April 17.

Mr O'Connell was the first lay principal of St Mary's University College, while Mrs O'Connell was a former teacher and award-winning water-colourist.

The couple would have been married 60 years this year after they met in the 1950s while teaching in Ballycastle. They had two children.

Speaking to The Irish News, their daughter Bronagh said their deaths were "just the nightmare of Covid-19".

"One week we have our mummy and daddy and the next, within three days, we have nobody because of this disease," said the community midwife, who was diagnosed with coronavirus the day after her father's death.

Mr O'Connell, who had Alzheimer's, and his wife, who had survived cancer three times, fell sick within days of each other. It was initially believed they had chest infections.

Despite being treated with oxygen in his home, Mr O'Connell died at 7am on April 14. Mrs O'Connell's death came at 7pm on April 17.

They were laid to rest together on Monday in the village of Carrigart in Co Donegal where they enjoyed many summers together.

"We are living in a bubble at the moment," continued Bronagh.

"We went into their house the other day and the peace I felt when I sat in my daddy's chair, there was a serenity.

"It was nearly as if all their health issues and pains and all my daddy's mental torment had all gone.

"The thing that makes me very sad is that my parents were such wonderful people and nobody had a chance to tell us the stories that we want to hear or show their respects.

"It is heartbreaking. We are completely numb."

She added: "I look at people who are so dismissive of the guidelines. Look what we are living now. No mummy. No daddy. They are gone completely.

"There is a whole generation of our family gone in three days. The void will never be filled again."

Belfast Telegraph